A recent news report revealed that Glasgow local authority’s own internal auditors have warned that failure to keep comprehensive records has led to them being unsure that all premises have been checked for the material. Even more shocking is the revelation that watchdogs consider that the policy on how asbestos is managed in Glasgow is more than a decade out of date!
In a series of recommendations for the Glasgow Council’s spin-off buildings landlord, City Property, the auditors called for the asbestos monitoring system (Modus) to be kept up to date. City Property does not have a comprehensive list of all its properties and as such, auditors are unable to be assured that all of the properties have undergone an asbestos survey.
The Modus system information is so out of date that some schools which have been demolished are listed as being in use – this increases the risk that not all of the relevant properties in the area are covered by the asbestos review process.
In a report to a meeting of Glasgow Council’s Finance and Audit Scrutiny Committee, it was found that the asbestos management system had not been updated since 2003 and this has resulted in the risk that not all parties involved in the process are aware of their responsibilities.
As a way of dealing with this sorry state of affairs, the auditors have recommended that a single asbestos “tsar” be appointed in the Council to ensure that the local authority and its network of external organisations can keep on top of the situation. They also called for a central register of all the recommendations from asbestos surveys to be put in place by the end of the month.
Weaknesses were found in the way in which information is recorded and shared within the local authority – this is something that must be addressed in order to improve the situation.
Ineffective communication is always a risk with large organisations and this story highlights just how badly things may go wrong as a result of that. When it comes to issues of health and safety, poor communication is a factor to look out for. Duty holders and business owners, in fact, anybody in a position to be responsible for the safety and well being of a work force should check their communications process in order to make sure that the right information can get to the right people at all times.
If communication skills are not your strong point, then taking a course in effective communication may be a good idea. If you’re responsible for keeping a list of buildings/areas where asbestos surveys have been done and regular checks are needed, learn how to use a spreadsheet to keep on top of everything you have to do each time and tick the boxes when the job’s been done. There are several software solutions that can be used to improve both organisation and communication so that duty holders can keep themselves up to date at all times.